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Washington wins Pac-12 Championship, completes Playoff case

The Huskies are likely headed to a semifinal.

Pac-12 Championship - Colorado v Washington Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

This wasn’t just any conference championship game for Washington. This was vindication of a program building out west under coach Chris Petersen. Washington hadn’t enjoyed a conference title since 2000, and after a 41-10 win over Colorado, the Huskies may be on to much bigger things.

For the first time in the six-season history of the Pac-12, the Huskies are representing the North Division in the conference's championship game. Between them and a league title stands the Colorado Buffaloes, whose 10-2 campaign has been arguably the biggest surprise in this year's college football season. A win will likely propel the Huskies into the College Football Playoff, while a loss could see them matched against Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.

In theory, the win should give the Huskies enough ammunition as a one-loss conference champion to keep Michigan and whoever wins the Big Ten at bay in the event Clemson and Alabama both win their conference championships.

In Colorado’s return to a conference championship game in their own right, the Buffaloes would not see a repeat of 2001.

That season featured the Buffaloes wrecking the Texas Longhorns’ postseason hopes as a top-10 team. From the early moments on Friday, the Buffs were in trouble. Quarterback Sefo Liufau (the heart of their mashing offense) re-aggravated a pesky ankle injury that had sidelined him for three games already this season. He missed most of the first half and a tight 14-7 margin at halftime quickly opened upon his return. On Liufau’s first play from scrimmage, this happened.

The next time Liufau dropped back to pass, it got worse.

But thanks to a salty defense, the Buffaloes stayed within relative striking distance. That is, until Washington’s John Ross put the game out of reach by doing just that, reaching as high as he could to claw this throwaway out of the sky, taking it home for a TD.

The Huskies have now won 12 games for the second time in school history.

The first time? The 1991 season, when Washington won a national championship. The Huskies should get their chance to do it again in 2016.